Friday, August 29, 2014

A Letter to My Readers, or, Breaking the Fourth Wall (Again)

Hello to all my dear readers,

This week, I am not writing the same kind of narrative or spastic lists that I know many of you have grown to know and love. I'm sorry. What I wish to do this week is take a step back and share with you all the ways that you can connect with me and be a part of creating a larger conversation on the Interwebz. Because, truth be told, I don't just publish this blog because I need an outlet for all the ideas bouncing around in my head (although that is one of the reasons I publish this blog). I also write and publish what I do because I want to spark conversations online.

So what that means is that if you find something stirring in what I've written here on the blog, please leave a comment and say so. I'm sure there's at least one other person, if it's not me, who would love to say how it resonated with them, too.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Why the Church?

I've been doing a lot of serious writing lately, trying to take a stand and say what I have to say about the most concerning matters of current events. And so I told myself that I was going to write on something a little lighter this week. But my mother, my father, and my wife have all told me that I have selective hearing. Apparently I even have trouble hearing myself.

However, I think what I'm doing this week is okay because, even though my topic is "Why the Church?" it comes from the Acts 8 Moment BLOGFORCE Challenge. Which means it's not just me trying to throw rocks at current events by means of my blog. No, in fact, this topic is a challenge given to everyone who follows the Acts 8 Moment. Which means that this post of mine is a part of a larger discussion taking place in cyberspace. As proof of said discussion, the icon below should route you to a collection of all the participating posts. And since it gets you into a select part of cyberspace, it means that I'm giving you my credentials.

I feel so cool... I have credentials...

Monday, August 18, 2014

#DONTSHOOT and Other Strategies to Stand with Ferguson

The previous post I made to my blog had everything to do with grappling with the Darkness inside of each of us. But now I'm grappling with what to do about the Darkness in the world around us. Sometimes it feels like we're being hemmed in on all sides and, like I said before, sometimes I'm sure that it's going to overwhelm us. I've certainly been worrying about overwhelming Darkness over the past week.

To be less abstract, Michael Brown was gunned down by a police office in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. As I understand the story, Mike was walking home when he was shot dead, even though he was unarmed, his hands were up and he was trying to tell the office as much. There are plenty of voices on all sides of this issue, but the way I perceive it, Mike's only crime was the color of his skin.

So what are we going to do about that? What am I, as a person of faith, supposed to do when I know that this injustice is going on? When I know of so many injustices throughout my society and in other societies across the world? As I said, sometimes it seems as if the Darkness is threatening to swallow everything up... but I know that I can take a stand.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

This Little Light of Mine...

This past Monday, August 11 we saw the passing of a great man. Robin Williams took his own life and in the week since, there have been many voices memorializing him, paying him homage while others have defamed him, calling him a coward for the way he died. And at the risk of putting myself out there and making someone angry (because I never do that), I am going to add my voice to the mix.

Yesterday, I published a review blog post about the movie Maleficent that my wife and I went to see last week. In that post, I wrote about how each of us carry in us the potential to be our own hero and our own villain. We each have Light and Dark contending in each of us and, in my observation, rarely are those forces equal.

A friend of mine posted on Facebook to a similar effect, saying that depression is a disease, that someone who contends with depression is sick. Sometimes the depression is a terminal illness. And that means that just simply preaching the virtues of positive thinking is not enough for those who suffer. I completely agree.

To move from the clinical to the metaphorical (because I move more easily in the metaphor), I want to impress upon everyone once again that rarely are the forces of Light and Dark equal in any one person. To those whose Light is able to eradicate the Darkness, I am genuinely envious. Because when your Light is able to do anything but eradicate it, the daily struggle can begin to wear you down. Lord knows my Darkness is always there and I must keep vigilant in order to keep it at bay.

Which is why Robin Williams' death rattles my confidence so much. Robin's life and work was a treasure for me in mine. I enjoyed his voice in Aladdin growing up, Hook was one of my favorite movies to watch with my brother. When I got into college, I discovered What Dreams May Come, which had everything to do with suicide and what it can do and what we're able to do when confronted with it but the movie seemed to me to maintain hope. Robin Williams' joy and energy has been infectious in my life. His joy and energy has been something I am happy to incubate. Which is why his death scares me so much. What am I supposed to do if the Darkness can overwhelm someone like Robin Williams?

While I guess my confidence is rattled, I have to believe that maintaining Hope is what we do. I'm not talking about the power of positive thinking (while I do think that helps), but we can nurture right relationships and stick together, having compassion for one another and maintaining right relationships. Helping each other to get what we need to keep the Darkness at bay and in order to live in the Light. Because I believe the Light comes from God and in maintaining the right relationships, God breaks into our lives and we join in the building up of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Grant peace to your servant Robin, O Lord, and let your perpetual light shine upon him.

Friday, August 15, 2014

How Maleficent Changed My Heart

My wife and I went to see Disney's new take on the Sleeping Beauty story last week. Which means that what I'm about to write is really current because, you know, it was only about two months after the movie came out. And what I found, aside from a movie that photoshopped Angelina Jolie's already imposing cheekbones to razor sharpness, was not what I had been expecting. I had expected a movie that used Jolie in a role more like Beowulf or Tomb Raider, only PG. I guessed, based on the trailers, that I should expect a story about a sexy witch in a movie that allowed the audience to revel in such a sinister character.

I was wrong. The movie was incredible. And what's more, I really saw themes of grace, forgiveness and redemption running through it.

From hereon, there be SPOILERS!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

5 Reasons Why I Think the Revised Common Lectionary Is So Cool

For those of you who regard the term "Revised Common Lectionary" as an insider term, let me please  open it up so there aren't insiders and outsiders on the topic.

I take for granted that you know the definitions of "revised" and "common," and that the meaning becomes suddenly murky when those two familiar terms are thrown together with "lectionary." A "lectionary" is a list of readings intended for some kind of worship ( and Merriam-Webster phrase this in different ways). From the dictionary definitions, it also looks like printing these readings in a single book-binding is optional... I did not know that part previously. Throw those three words together and you have a list of Bible readings that is shared (in its entirety or in part) in the U.S. and Canada by the Lutherans, the Episcopalians, the Roman Catholics, the Presbyterians, and some Methodists. It has also been widely adopted in Great Britain and Australia (I took that info from Wikipedia, so please let me know if it's wrong but please get mad at them).

Okay, so what is it about the Revised Common Lectionary that I actually like? I'm glad you asked.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Starting a New Fire after #Kindling14

First thing in this post, let me admit that attending any given conference is still an enigma for me. What I mean by that is that I really enjoy conferences; there is usually a really good energy and dynamism when they're well-planned. But meanwhile, a conference is not my learning style. I do much better when I'm allowed to take hand-written notes on a topic and then allowed to take a day or two to digest and ruminate on the information before I take notes on a new topic (hmm... sounds an awful lot like my college schedule). At your typical conference, I have have had anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours to digest things before going onto the next workshop. And even then, the workshops and presentations may not be conducive to note-taking. So I have not been able to figure out what to do with myself at conferences, even though I think I have attended a fair number of them.

That being said, I attended this year's Episcopal conference on Young Adult and Campus Ministry. It happened at the University of Minnesota, out here in my neck of the woods. It was also dubbed Kindling '14 (because I assume we will be using the same title next year).

This is what was printed on all our itinerary and press releases